Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, tabled an official written parliamentary question to the Department of Health and Social Care, asking what steps were being taken to reduce ambulance waiting times in Cumbria.
The Cumbrian MP has long urged Government to make sure cutting ambulance waiting times is a priority for rural areas such as Penrith and The Border where ambulances can have longer distances to travel to reach patients.
The Minister of State responsible for ambulances, Will Quince, replied to the question that NHS England has allocated an extra £150 million to ease ambulance pressures in the current financial year. It is also investing £20 million to upgrade the ambulance fleet each year to 2025 and providing thousands more beds nationally to get patients into hospital faster and reduce handover delays. Dr Hudson welcomed the huge investment which will no doubt benefit people in Cumbria.
Cumbria is under the jurisdiction of the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) but also relies on the Great North Air Ambulance Service, St John’s Ambulance, Mountain Rescue England and Wales, and Beep Doctors Cumbria to handle medical emergencies.
Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, said:
“I thank the Health Minister for his considered response and I'm really pleased the Health Department has pledged to deliver shorter response times for the most serious incidents enabled by speedier handover times so ambulances can get back on the road and respond to 999 calls.
“This is particularly welcome news for people in rural areas like here in Penrith and The Border where people can find themselves in need of acute care far away from a hospital equipped to handle the emergency."
This follows Dr Hudson’s work with local stakeholders looking to find a solution to the issue of acute care and transport on Alston Moor. Recently he organised a roundtable with NWAS, Cumbria Health on Call, Save Alston Moor’s Services, Alston Moor Parish Council, Emergency Medical Technicians, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, to continue to provide support to the isolated communities across the North Pennines.
Dr Hudson tabled the question:
"To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to work with NHS bodies in Cumbria to reduce ambulance waiting times in the region."
Will Quince, Minister of State for Health and Secondary Care, answered in full:
“NHS England has allocated an additional £150 million for ambulance service pressures in 2022/23, supporting improvements to response times through additional call handler recruitment, retention and other funding requirements, including in Cumbria. The National Health Service is also investing £20 million to upgrade the ambulance fleet in each year to 2024/25, reducing its age profile, increasing productivity and reducing emissions.
“NHS bed capacity will be increased by the equivalent of at least 7,000 general and acute beds to reduce waiting times for admission from accident and emergency and ambulance handover delays and improve ambulance response times. NHS England is also providing targeted support to some hospitals with the greatest delays in the handover of ambulance patients into hospitals to identify short and longer-term interventions.”